SEO Scams

Protecting Your Business From SEO Scams

search engine optimizationHow to Tell The Good Guys From The Bad Guys

I have received a lot of calls and e-mails recently concerning companies that offer to help businesses with their Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Most make claims that seem “too good to be true.”

I guess there will always be people who try to take other peoples money by providing little or no service in return.  Such are many of the SEO “Experts” today.

For starters – here are three “Red Flags” of an SEO Scam.

  1. If the e-mail you receive doesn’t have a company name, it’s probably a scam.  You want to be working with someone that has an ongoing business – not someone that is selling your name or lead to another company.
  2. If the e-mail is a gmail , hotmail or other free e-mail, you probably are not dealing with a professional SEO company or individual.  These e-mails are hard to trace and can be shut down in a matter of minutes –leaving you with no way to communicate with your SEO provider.  A real company (or individual) will have a website you can visit and will be using an e-mail tied to that.
  3. If the e-mail (or phone solicitation) begins with ….”I’ve been to your website and noticed you are not showing up in the Search Engines…” you should delete the e-mail or hang up.   Most of these people don’t know a thing about your website and they have done absolutely no research on you or your company.  One person called me the other day and when I questioned him about my business he didn’t even know what I was selling. To do even a simple “audit” of a potential customer’s website takes at least 30 minutes.  Anything less than that and it’s hard to have an intelligent conversation.  You can be assured that the salesman has not spent 30 minutes just to give you a “cold call.”

The First Page of Google SEO Scam

I stopped counting when I received fifty e-mails about guaranteed First Page (or First Place) on Google.

It’s really pretty easy to get on the first page of Google. And if you have a website now, you probably have at least one first page listing on Google (unless you just launched the website today).  Almost anybody can get you listed on Google for your company name — on the front page.

Now, that could be a little difficult if you are A-1 Plumbing — since there are probably a thousand other A-1 Plumbing  businesses in cities and towns all over the country.  But there is no reason why you shouldn’t be 1st page for A-1 Plumbing Gainesville, Texas — or A-1 Plumbing Anderson, South Carolina.

That’s great if people know your business name.  But unless you have a lot of “brand awareness” most people looking for a plumber will search for “Chicago Plumber”  or  “Plumber in Chicago” or even a generic search such as “someone to fix my faucet.”

The real SEO strategy is to make sure you show up on the first page of Google with your “money words” — those key words that people search for that will bring you business.   It takes an SEO expert who will spend the time with you to determine what keywords will work best for your business.

If you fall for the “first page of Google” SEO Scam, you’ll probably have mostly useless listings.

The “I can place you in 1,200 Search Engines”  SEO Scam

First, there aren’t 1,200 search engines.  There are only two that count-Google and Bing.  If you don’t get traffic from those two, it’s hard to have an Internet business.

There are a number  of directories that you should have a listing in — but not a thousand.

The “I can get you a 100 links a day to your website” SEO Scam

Links to your website are important. And it is true that Google and Bing give you a good traffic boost when you have good quality links to your website. The emphasis here is on “good quality” links.   Links from so called “link farms” and other low quality sites can actually hurt you in the search results.

I recently came across a link-building scam here in Dallas, Texas.  An SEO Scammer had gone to about 50 businesses and sold a package for $2,000.  She built a landing page with all 50 businesses listed and than linked each of the 50 business pages back to that landing page.  To my surprise it actually worked.  Most — if not all – of the businesses saw a first page listing for the keyword that was selected for the landing page.  The search engines will eventually find out about this scam and all of the websites participating will be penalized.

Short-term, this may seem like a good idea.  But unless you plan to be in business only for the short-term, don’t participate in these link scams. If Google or Bing should ever flag your website for a penalty it can take you a long time to recover. The last thing you want to do is have your domain removed from Google search.

Do your research before you hire an SEO company.

Clothing store owner Sy Sym used to say in all his advertising “An educated consumer is our best customer.”

For more information, check out this post on SEO Scam artists . There is also a discussion on this topic over on LinkedIn.

You can also find other posts here on the Marketing Research Blog on this or other topics by clicking on the links on the right side of this page.

The latest blog post is here.

You  are also welcome to start a discussion by commenting below on this post.